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Apple refutes anti-competition allegations by highlighting success of third-party apps

Apple refutes anti-competition allegations by highlighting success of third-party apps
Photo Credit: Pixabay
8 Apr, 2022
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In a move that deviates from Apple’s usual way of conducting business, the iPhone maker has cited a third party report to underline how its own apps and services, offered pre-installed on its iPhones and iPads, are in fact not the most popular choice among its users. A Bloomberg report on the matter states that Apple is citing a report by American market research firm Analysis Group to the European Union regarding monopolistic app practices on its operating system, which claims that Apple’s own apps and services are not really the most popular in most geographies.

The Analysis Group report suggests that in USA, music streaming service Spotify is 1.6x more popular than Apple Music. Similarly, Netflix is 17x more popular in the same region against Apple TV+, while Google Maps is 1.5x more popular than Apple Maps. While there are no India-specific numbers in the report, the latter also states that even in other markets such as Asia, services such as Line and WeChat remain to be more popular communication apps than Apple’s own iMessage.

Apple has been questioned by various regulators around the world regarding its allegedly monopolistic practices with its App Store. In the European Union, regulators have questioned Apple enforcing its own apps as default options on iOS. In response to this, since the rollout of iOS 14 in 2020, Apple opened up the option for users to choose alternate apps as default ones for some of its services – such as browser and email.

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However, critics have stated that even when Apple allows users to choose some alternatives for its default apps, the process of choosing the same is a complicated affair.

Apple also compulsorily makes developers use only its own payment instruments for accepting in-app payments for purchases made by users, against which the company charges a commission fee of 15 or 30%. Alongside regulators, Apple has notably had a lengthy court battle in USA against Epic Games for this commission, which alleged that the company’s compulsory enforcement of the rule is anticompetitive.

The Analysis Group report, on this note, comes as an effort by the company to address such claims. Apple has typically always held steadfastly about offering a closely controlled usage experience of both its hardware and software – and as a result, it is a bit unusual of Apple to admit that its own apps and services are, in fact, not the most preferred among its users.

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In India too, Apple is facing a Competition Commission of India (CCI) probe regarding the compulsory usage of the App Store as the only avenue to download apps on its iPhones and iPads.

A 20-page order issued by the CCI in January 2022 said, “​Third party app stores are not allowed to be listed on Apple's App Store as the developer guidelines as well as agreement prohibit app developers from offering such services. These restrictions imposed by Apple forecloses the market for app stores for iOS for potential app distributors.”